Several studies have examined sponsor‐cause congruence as an influence on consumer response to cause marketing campaigns. This paper aims to assess the relationship between sponsor‐cause congruence and consumer responses to cause marketing programs. In addition, it aims to test the possible existence of an interaction of congruence and service type of a cause sponsor (utilitarian vs hedonic) on consumer response.
A 2×2 experimental design was used to assess the impact of congruence and firm type. A total of 176 students participated in the main experiment. Sponsor‐cause linkages were presented using mock press releases.
Results indicated no main effects differences existed for the sponsorship response variables collectively, but perceived sincerity and attitude toward sponsor were significantly more positive for congruent sponsor‐cause linkages and attitude toward sponsor was significantly more positive for utilitarian sponsors. The congruence‐service type interaction was significant.
Findings based on parings of two high equity brands with two well‐known causes. Future research should consider impact of sponsor and cause prominence on consumer response.
Sponsorship managers must go beyond examining a cause's audience characteristics to insure a good match between the values of the brand and cause. Also, findings suggest that sponsors that market hedonic services face unique challenges communicating their involvement in cause sponsorships.
Results can assist sponsorship managers better understand the relationship between sponsor‐cause congruence and the nature of the service their firms offer and their impact on shaping consumer response to cause marketing activity.
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